The US Brig Niagara, a US Coast Guard certified Sailing School Vessel (SSV), will be making a regular stop at Put-in-Bay the third weekend in June each year through 2020.
“We are happy to have signed an agreement with the Put-in-Bay Chamber of Commerce to bring Niagara to the island for five of the next six years,” said William Sabatini, Captain of the vessel.
Niagara will visit Put-in-Bay for five years beginning in 2015 with the exception of 2017 when the ship will be in dry dock undergoing a renovation.
The announcement was made Wednesday morning, November 5, at the Maritime Academy of Toledo, a Fifth through Twelfth grade school located off Summit Street on the Maumee River.
Captain Sabatini and Shawn Waskiewicz of the Flagship Niagara League also presented a check for $10,000 to the Maritime Academy. Academy students learned to sail on the square rigger this past summer and another group of students will sail aboard Niagara in 2015.
Blanca Alvarez Stransky, Superintendent of Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial, Peter Huston of the Perry Group, Ottawa County Visitors Bureau Director Larry Fletcher, Put-in-Bay Chamber President Ty Winchester and Put-in-Bay Chamber Executive Director Maggie Beckford also attended the press conference.
Mr. Winchester talked about the Niagara’s long history with Put-in-Bay and the excitement that has been generated on the island for the vessel’s annual visit.
“I think everyone can agree this is a very good partnership,” said Winchester.
About a year ago, a small group of individuals met to discuss having several tall ships visit the island on a regular basis. Representatives from the island, led by Mr. Winchester, met with Captain Sabatini and Mr. Waskiewicz last winter in Erie to iron out the details.
The Niagara, a replica of the brig that Commodore Oliver H. Perry navigated to victory over the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where the original ships were built for the American fleet. The Niagara, The Lawrence and several small vessels were built in Erie, PA but the naval battle was fought about ten miles northwest of South Bass Island where Put-in-Bay is located.
The ships, including Niagara, were scuttled in Misery Bay in Erie, PA after the battle. The first replica was built for the 1913 Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie and underwent several renovations.
She was well received at Put-in-Bay in 1991 when the island created the first Historical Weekend, now called the Perry’s Victory Heritage Festival. The festival is celebrated the first weekend after Labor Day each year.
Perry Group President Marc Burr said the non-profit will display its longboat, built for the Bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie celebration in 2013, at the 2015 Cleveland Boat Show, January 15-18. Mr. Huston, who spearheaded the idea and the fundraising for the longboat, said the Perry Group will help generate some excitement for the Niagara’s return visits to Put-in-Bay.
Mr. Huston also announced the Perry Group has established a scholarship for a Put-in-Bay student, or a student from another Ottawa County school, to sail on Niagara.
Superintendent Stransky said the potential for educational opportunities while the brig is in port are enormous.
The Jet Express has stopped service for the year, but Miller Boat Line is still providing passenger and vehicle ferry service every day weather permitting. Today the ferries are not running as we experience unseasonably cold weather. See Miller Ferry website for updates.
Old Forge Café & Creperie, Reel Bar, and Topsy Turvey’s are all planning to be open part time this winter.
Most islanders are looking forward to a little vacation time in between making plans and hiring employees for next season. And, of course, if it’s cold this winter many are looking forward to ice fishing for perch and walleye.
You can start planning your 2015 visit to Put-in-Bay (South Bass Island) and Middle Bass Island now by clicking on the 2015 Calendar of Events.
Put-in-Bay’s (Put in Bay) Island Visitor Guide & Vacation Planner for 2015, produced by the Put-in-Bay (Put in Bay) Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Bureau that represents 160 Put in Bay (Put-in-Bay) businesses, will be available for download in early January 2015. You can still download our 2014 Island Visitor Guide from our website by clicking the link above.